Intesa Sanpaolo and Sace have finalised a new agreement to support Italian SMEs in the Chinese market.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) has been signed, aiming to support Italian SME exports to, and internationalisation projects in, China by enhancing their access to medium to long-term financing and expanding the offer of products and services to sustain their business initiatives in the Asian market.

The agreement allocates a total amount of €100mn to support, through medium to long-term financing, the export and internationalisation activities carried out by Italian companies in China and lays the basis for a further co-operation on specific projects in this market.

A first transaction is already being evaluated under the scope of the agreement: a €16mn loan, to be issued by Intesa Sanpaolo and guaranteed by Sace, to support the export of Italian industrial technologies by Toscotec to one key Chinese paper/tissue producer.

The agreement was signed by Gaetano Micciché, director general of Intesa Sanpaolo and head of the corporate and investment banking division, and by Alessandro Castellano, CEO of Sace, on the sidelines of the Business Forum organised in Beijing during the Italian government mission to China.

“Intesa Sanpaolo has always been strongly committed to supporting the process of development and growth of Italian firms in international markets, particularly in China,” says Micciché. “The Chinese market continues to offer significant growth prospects in terms of consumption and these opportunities can be seized by Italian companies with strong brands and capable to continuously improve the quality of products and identify new market segments. To this end, the role of a bank in offering its customers innovative services, with both a vision and a presence in international markets as an experienced like Intesa Sanpaolo Group can provide, is crucial.”

“Italian export to China amounts to €10bn, representing only one seventh of total German exports to the country,” declares Castellano.

“This is an unacceptable gap, particularly in sectors in which we should excel: like agrifood, where the value of German exports is almost four times ours. Our outlook for Italian export to China is very positive (+11% on average over the next four years), still it doesn’t yet reflect the full potential the market could offer to Italian companies.”

Castellano adds that the agreement with Intesa Sanpaolo is an important initiative “to enhance the investment capacity and competiveness of our companies and to reinforce the positioning of the ‘Made in Italy’ [brand] in the Chinese market”.